A Kansas City planning group unanimously endorsed a new Midtown/Plaza area plan Tuesday despite strong objections from lawyers representing the owner of the Country Club Plaza.
The City Plan Commission, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the City Council, supported a plan that would provide a framework for future development from 31st to 55th streets and from State Line Road to the Paseo.
City planners created the document to update plans that were decades old as part of a broader overhaul of area plans across the city. They initially worked with consultants, surveyed residents and businesses, and held numerous meetings with neighbors and other community representatives.
The document has guidelines for land use, design, transportation and housing, along with recommendations to preserve neighborhood character and strategic areas for redevelopment.
The Plan Commission agreed with testimony from some neighborhood leaders and historic preservation advocates that this is a good update and expansion on a 1989 Plaza area plan and will serve the community well.
“I’m really very pleased with that outcome,” said Greg Allen, president of the Historic Kansas City board.
But attorney Mark Bryant, representing Highwoods Properties, which has owned the Country Club Plaza since 1999, said his client could not support the plan as it applies to the Plaza.
Bryant commended the neighborhood volunteers and planners who spent many hours since January 2013 working on the draft, but said Highwoods has concluded that the plan creates the potential for a burdensome layer of regulation and design review that could seriously impede the Plaza’s development and progress.
Bryant said Highwoods has been a very good steward of the Plaza, but the plan could hinder its ability to alter building exteriors to meet new tenants’ needs, thus driving those tenants to Johnson County or other venues away from Kansas City.
Some neighborhood leaders said those fears are overblown. The debate now moves to the City Council, which would make the final decision on any new area plan.
More information is at http://kcmo.gov/planning/area-plans-2/midtown-plaza/.